Strangely Quiet

My mother has been on my mind a lot lately.

Since she died last June, I find it’s been sorta up-and-down: Some weeks I think of her a lot; others, not so much.  In truth, I expected that.  What’s surprised me isn’t the variability in frequency but the change in kind.

In the first few months after she died, I kept thinking of things I should be doing for her.  Telling her about some show I’d seen.    Ordering chocolates to be delivered.  Forwarding an email joke or putting an interesting photo magazine in the mail.  Administering her blog.  Emailing her a photograph I’d taken.  Reminding her about the curling being on TV.  Planning a trip to visit her in Vancouver.

And then, of course, I would pull up short.

As I waited more or less patiently for my subconscious to catch up, I marvelled at how many things I’d done for Mom: the “how many” quantified, however roughly, by all the times I pulled up short.

Now my subconscious has stopped yammering at me to do these little things, and I can hear what’s going on around me.  There’s the noise made by grandchildren, growing in wisdom and stature.  By our trips to new places.  By my weekly blogging.  By new hobbies like making videos and (oh my goodness what was I thinking) knitting.   It should make for a happy hubbub, shouldn’t it?

And it is happy, but it’s strangely quiet, too: There is a silence at the core.

Until her voice was silenced, who knew that she was the one person I could count on to comment favourably on all the aspects of my life?

As I wait for my subconscious to catch up again, I marvel at how many things Mom did for me.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Tom Watson

    I’m well acquainted personally with the steps through which you have been walking. For the almost year before my wife died last October, my day was governed by her needs – medication times, meal times, when outside caregivers were coming times, and so on. For a while when I’d be away from the home my subconscious would kick in and tell me that I must need to be home because “it’s time for…”

    It does lessen in time, but it takes a while.

    In a similar vein, I just finished reading a very interesting book by Plum Johnson entitled “They Left Us Everything: A Memoir.”

    In the book, the author reflects on the first year following the death of her 93 year old mother – all that she remembers having experienced from being her daughter, all that she feels and senses now. It’s a sometimes funny, always touching memoir about who our parents were and our relationship with them.
    Tom

  2. Alison

    Once again, you’ve written what I feel. You have a gift. My mom was the willing recipient of anything I sewed or made, and now, when I judge myself harshly for something that hasn’t worked out the way I intended – I have no one to give it to! funny and sad at the same time.

  3. When my dad died almost thirty years ago, a wise friend said to me – “Now you have become the senior male in the family.” (The way he said it implied the same had I been a mother to a daughter).

    I believe that we never lose our need for a parent, but somehow, the focus for us needs to gradually shift from our parents to our kids for whom we fill a continuing, senior role.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Wayne – Yes, being the senior is an odd position to be in, after all these years of being someone’s kid, or being somewhere in the middle. But you’re right. It’s my turn to take on the old-lady role, with whatever that entails.

  4. Lorna

    The cherry trees are in blossom again. Last year I took mom out for the last time and we drove a circuit and marvelled at the beauty of those pink trees. We both knew she was dying but she still was happy to see spring bring its beauty. And I was happy to share it with her. This year’s blossoms bring a sadness that they never have before. Thanks for sharing your feeling so clearly Isabel.

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